All Science on Tap events take place at 6pm the second Monday of the month at National Mechanics, 22 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, unless otherwise stated. Be sure to arrive early to get seats!

Coming Monday July 11, 2016

For Science! Four Tales of Body-snatching, Organ Collecting, and Fraud in 19th Century Philadelphia

Evi Numen, Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

How did physicians, resurrectionists and collectors evade the law in 19th century Philadelphia? And why?


Philadelphia was a buzzing medical center in the late 19th century. With the flood of the weary, injured, and disabled veterans of the American Civil War, the need for hospitals and well-educated physicians increased tenfold. Medical schools sprouted, admissions rose, and with them the demand for bodies; cadavers for dissection and specimens for the classroom and research. Since lawful supply didn’t meet the high demand, anatomists, students and collectors had to resort to some rather questionable means to resolve that deficit.

JohnFrankford004A one-eyed horse thief becomes the epicenter of a national scandal post-mortem, a “petrified body” is donated to a local museum, a fetal specimen is obtained from a dying woman, and a jar of anonymous epileptic brains raise questions about the how these specimens were collected and the scientific studies they were colllected for.

Evi Numen is an artist, independent researcher, and curator from Athens, Greece. She received her Bachelor and Master of Fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds the position of Exhibitions Manager at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia since 2009. During this time, Numen has organized, designed and installed multiple exhibitions at the Mütter Museum as well as curated their contemporary medical themed art shows. She is the founder and curator of an online exhibition of contemporary mourning art. In her spare time, Numen volunteers as a death midwife and hospice worker.

This month’s Science on Tap talk is sponsored by The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

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